Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup voices concerns about Halls Head College funding cuts

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup has expressed concerns about the Labor Party’s decision to make changes to the school funding model.

Under the new model, senior secondary schools with more than 1200 students will receive less funding per pupil, with the funding redistributed to smaller schools.

Mr Kirkup particularly expressed concerns for Halls Head College, a senior school in his electorate. 

“I don’t understand how we can have such a large school in Mandurah going backwards in terms of the funding that it gets from the government,” Mr Kirkup said. 

Based on the current student enrolment projections for Halls Head College for 2018, which is 1344 students, the school will receive $164,880 less than it would have anticipated in the past with the same amount of students.

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Mr Kirkup said he was worried students would be deprived of programs, initiatives and opportunities that would normally be funded through the state government. 

“I can’t understand why the government thinks it’s a good idea to take money away from that school, if anything more money needs to go into it,” he said. 

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense, operational costs or otherwise, why the school’s being penalised for its popularity.  

“It bothers me because it shows, I think once again, that Mandurah has totally been forgotten by this government when comes to the fundamental issues that need to be addressed in our community.”

Minister for Education Sue Ellery said the changes were about improving the student-centred funding model to ensure a more equitable share of funding for WA senior high schools.

“I have absolute confidence in the outstanding staff and school community at Halls Head College to continue to excel,” Ms Ellery said. 

“Under the original education funding model, schools were either advantaged or disadvantaged based on school size.

“A number of options were put forward to the previous government to address the issue of equity for all secondary schools, but none were implemented. It cannot be ignored any longer.”

The decision to make these changes to school funding for 2018 was part of the 2017-2018 State Budget process and schools were advised on September 8 this year.

Department of Education finance and commercial services executive director Jay Peckitt said that large secondary schools like Halls Head College had the capacity to offer a wide range of subjects, options and pastoral support for students, while smaller schools could find it much harder to provide a full suite of options.

“This is the principles of economies of scale – as student numbers increase, larger schools can meet their operational costs and still have money left over for other options whereas smaller schools may not,” Mr Peckitt said.

“The funding change is about making it fairer for all public secondary students – no matter which school they attend,” Mr Peckitt said.

Each WA public secondary school will receive an amount per student in 2018. Photo: Department of Education.

Each WA public secondary school will receive an amount per student in 2018. Photo: Department of Education.

A review of the student-centred funding model will begin next year in readiness for the 2019 school year.

Based on the current student enrolment projections for John Tonkin College for 2018, which is 1034 students, it is not expected the school will be affected by the change.